Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tonight I found myself living out the canonical neon sign sequence as I walked along College and Carlton Streets from roughly McCaul to Church in search of a late-night home. Even my last-ditch resort of Tim Hortons was not a possibility as the store at College Park closes at midnight. In the event, I ended up across the street from Maple Leaf Gardens at the Golden Griddle. The Golden Griddle, like the now-closed Harvey's down the street, is cavernous, so much so that its sheer size will one day be a curiosity when we forget about the importance of Maple Leaf Gardens. Hopefully, despite our fading memories, we will not allow it to become a giant Loblaws, or worse yet, owned by CHUM to house some travesty of mass culture.

Carlton Street easily plays an uninspiring second fiddle to its older, stately sister in College Street. Long kitty cornered, their union in 1931 was the product of the newly-minted Maple Leaf Gardens, when they were joined in the awkward jog you see today. As is often the case in Toronto, the streets with the proud, Anglo-Saxon names and a sense of heritage found themselves neglected, in disarray and often foreboding alleys to be avoided. Consider, for example, Wellesley, Parliament, Jarvis, the lesser-known Berkeley and the best-known example of Regent Park. Carlton too, had such a beginning: a street that begins at Yonge and concludes as majestic brick at the top of Riverdale Park was named for the brother-in-law of one of the McGills. College, by contrast, has its origins in urban planning and strategy like University Avenue and Yonge Street respectively. If standing at College and University seems like a bit of an odd thing to do, consider that they were, ostensibly anyway, both known as College Avenue in their infancy.

Returning to the twist of fate that we see today, Carlton Street is surely forlorn with the closure of Maple Leaf Gardens, the stretch between Yonge and Church surely being its best offering. Traveling east of Church, Carlton alternates between an uneasy grittiness and beautiful antiquity, coming to an end as a major street at Parliament. The intersection with Parliament, where the absentee 506 streetcar makes a 90-degree turn, is bright and cheerful, but with the uneasiness of a dollar store, of which there are at least a few in the area.

College Street, on the other hand, began as a passage to Yonge Street as well as to connect the city with the relocated university at King's College Circle (originally at the site of Queen's Park, hence the twin names). Today, it transitions seamlessly from Yonge Street commerce to semi-public institutions near Bay and Elizabeth to the university, lasting until Spadina. The imposing presence of the former Clark Institute of Psychiatry is a blight, but insofar as it is hidden, it meshes well with Kensington Market, hidden behind a single block of storefronts on College and Spadina. From there, we enter prosperous Iberian enclaves that terminate unceremoniously by merging into Dundas near High Park.

Carlton clearly doesn't have anywhere near the drawing power, even though it stretches all the way to the Don. It may not have been meant to compete with College, but its stagnance clearly rings true for other east-west thoroughfares in the downtown area: no one really wants to travel east of Yonge on Queen or Dundas either. The only merit that east-end downtown has a powerful historical connection. All the heritage of Toronto lies east of Yonge: after all, the first town boundaries squeezed what was then known as York between what are now Parliament, Jarvis, Front and Adelaide Streets. You don't want to spend much time there today.

It seems that eastern downtown never quite recovered from the shift of the city's centre to the west that took place, for a variety of reasons, over a century ago. After all, whether you define the centre today as being at Yonge and Bloor, Yonge and Dundas, Bay and King, Bay and Front or elsewhere, it is undeniable that all but the geographical centre (somewhere near Mount Pleasant cemetery) is either on or west of Yonge. The original town of 1793 is ugly, remote and barren, and few venture there for any reason.

All this leads us to the question of what is it that makes a street or neighbourhood good or bad? Once we distil concerns of safety and the like from the question, it becomes simply one of what makes a good urban environment. The answer will invariably come back to some consumerist virtue having to do with the goods and services, even if they are cultural as opposed to thoroughly material, that can be obtained. This is why Queen West and Yorkville are popular; obviously, you can buy things, be they Ugg boots or eighteen shots of whatever the hell it is shots are of. Or, the good maybe a second-order imposition on consumerist virtue, usually observational or voyeuristic: it is fun to walk around window-shopping on Queen Street, or to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Kensington Market. We can also refer to this as the potency of a city: it is good because of all the things that we can buy, or all the services of which we can avail ourselves.

However, is the good street, neighbourhood or city simply a place that lets you buy what you want? It is intuitive that the urban experience that is so highly valued by suburban transplants, so much so that they were always from Toronto, is in fact both immaterial and belonging to the first-order, and not its spin-off voyeurism. I agree with the intuition as well, what is enjoyable about life in Toronto, and any other city by extension, is not shopping, nor is it simple meandering, but actually, in every sense of the word, living my life. This is, clearly, the stuff of another entry.
In lieu of a real entry, I would like to capitulate to the trend on Livejournal and ask all of you a question. For some of you, it may be something that you have never done, others might do it three or more times a week and still others might even have no interest in this activity at all.

What is the most you have ever bench-pressed? You can comment anonymously, but please leave the name and location of the gymnasium or facility where this prodigious act took place so that I may verify it for my own edification.

I benched 130 lbs six times at the Malton Community Centre in the summer of 2002. I would point out that I weighed 110 at the time.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Communications From Elsewhere ""Sexuality is dead," says Lacan; however, according to de Selby[1] , it is not so much sexuality that is dead, but rather the genre, and thus the collapse, of sexuality. If material dematerialism holds, the works of Madonna are empowering. But Reicher[2] implies that we have to choose between the dialectic paradigm of narrative and subsemanticist cultural theory.

"Society is fundamentally meaningless," says Lacan. In Sex, Madonna reiterates material dematerialism; in Erotica, however, she analyses the dialectic paradigm of reality. Therefore, Baudrillard promotes the use of neopatriarchialist nihilism to modify and read culture.

The premise of the dialectic paradigm of narrative suggests that the law is dead, given that capitalist theory is valid. In a sense, if the dialectic paradigm of narrative holds, we have to choose between the dialectic paradigm of reality and the predialectic paradigm of consensus
."

A very cogent critique is offered by Decova and Antonopoulos; I strongly suggest all of you read it. Insofar as we are taking potshots at the incorrigible, incoherent and unintelligible granolafucks over on Livejournal, I am behooven to write a few words about the gleeful incomprehensibility that so perniciously plagues historiography. What follows below will be the events of my day, written about with the portentous aloofness of a thoroughly inarticulate historian, communicating that aloofness through intransigence concerning any fact, datum or axiom that might furnish a greater understanding of what has been written. For example, in E.J. Feuchtwanger's biography of William Gladstone, Feuchtwanger goes to great lengths to keep the reader unaware of exactly who the Earl Granville is (is he an Earl or is that his last name?) and what he does, to the point that he tiptoes like Randy Moss like staying in bound and endures semantic gymnastics more suited to a philanderer.

If today began with the inimitable optimism of a bright Sunday in Muddy York, incorporated in 1834 in the mid-Victorian Peelite tradition as an enclosed harbour on the Lake, it was unknown to me. This Sunday, the thirteenth of the year, was hardly an approximation nor a denouement for a student facing three essays in the week that would herald Opening Day at its summation, but rather was at its start the latest in a chain of post-dawn jaunts along the pavement. That today's dozen and one half kilometres, save one, came in the late-morning was inimical to the author, planning fully on the conclusion of a paper on sexual ethics, if not a hearty breakfast of pancakes.

Self-referential and exuding tautological heuristics, the mid-way point was reached in forty minutes a mere stone's throw from the Luminous Veil. The uphill return, the exit from Todmodern Mills coming along a narrow path not unlike those found on mountain roads in the north of Pakistan, themselves indirectly the subject of a feature in the Globe and Mail this week, was somewhat quicker in thirty-eight minutes. The streetcar ride to Starbucks, then, can be viewed as emblematic of what Verlyn Klinkenborg termed "not quite the new April" in the Sunday Times. The glory, self-deprecation and locomotive strain undertaken earlier was lost in a veritable savannah of vibrant leisure in Kensington Market in the moments prior.

With the remnants of the gastronomic misadventure undertaken on a grand avenue that is home to Toronto's second Chinatown, the first having been razed for Hannskarl Bandel's signature work north of the forty-ninth parallel, present and yet dormant in the inhospitable biome of the refrigerator, there was no need for takeout pizza as was often the case from the aforementioned locomotive strain. The second meal would, however, occur, following a trip to the sprawling bibliotheca located on a street named, likely without relevance, for the patron saint of England, at Pizza Nova. In the event, the vegetarian slice would cost far more than the mean inverse of the income of the humanistic inverse of an inhabitant of the North American Great Lakes, found, of course, in an inhabitant of the African Great Lakes. Nonetheless, at a lofty four dollars and seventy-six cents, the victory was at least Pyrrhic and likely moral as well.

Friday, March 24, 2006

TheStar.com - Teens arrested after vicious beating: "Police are crediting the high school's Crime Stoppers program with helping them make the arrests."

This just gets better and better. High five, everybody.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The indoor track at the University of Toronto's cavernous Hart House, a wonderous collection of general-purpose rooms and services inside the closest thing there is to a castle these days, has to be the Fenway Park of tracks. If we leave aside the tracks that are springing up in every condominium, gym and other institution, this (putatively) ancient track is easily the most novel place to run in downtown Toronto. Seven laps to a kilometre on a surface that feels as though someone stuffed pillows under a basketball court go by quickly thanks to the sharp, hesitantly-banked turns and hectic infield. Half of the infield, as it would be called, consists of exercise equipment, whereas the other half is, well, nothing. The track becomes a catwalk above a basketball court on the other side.

The Hart House track combines my fears of small spaces, heights, collisions while running but I still loved it, likely for the same inexplicable reasons as people loved the foibles of old Tiger Stadium, Fenway Park or, at least I do in my nostalgia, the horrendous arrangement and discomfort of old Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. Sheer novelty in the right context, despite its various deficiencies, transforms itself into a characteristic uniqueness, a trademark that becomes an attraction of its own.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

TheStar.com - Brampton teen clings to life after attack: "A Brampton teen is clinging to life after being severely beaten Monday afternoon, police say.
The 16-year-old boy was attacked by a group of other males at about 3 p.m. in the Kennedy Rd. and Steeles Ave. area of Brampton, near Turner Fenton Secondary School. An unknown weapon was used in the attack, inflicting serious head injuries, police said.
The attack took place in an adjacent parking lot and not on school grounds, said Peel police Const. Kathy Weylie. It is not known whether the victim knew his attackers or if any were students at Turner Fenton, she said.
Police are looking for five or six suspects, described as males between 16 and 18 years of age.
A number of witnesses were in the area at the time and have been interviewed by police, Weylie said
."

How about that? I think now would be an appropriate time to say, "GUNSHOT!"

Monday, March 20, 2006

It is quite fashionable to trash holidays, either for becoming overly commercial or being the product of flawed or unjust origins, but to my knowledge St. Patrick's Day is relatively immune to long polemics of any sort. It is perplexing, given that St. Patrick's Day has to be the single shallowest, dullest instance of mass cultural conformity in this country, other than maybe New Year's Eve. The point of St. Patrick's Day, aside from wearing green, appears to be nothing more than mindless, thoughtful, egregiously stupid drinking. It is a cultural event with all the significance and poorly-conceived circular logic of, oh, I don't know, the MuchMusic VJ search. Such celebrities are celebrities solely by virtue of being famous and on television; St. Patrick's Day is a holiday when people go drinking because it's St. Patrick's Day.

It is an act of immense and pathetic conformity to mass culture, not in virtue of statistic attesting to the proportion of Canadians between a given age who drank alcohol, but in the undeniably large number who find themselves compelled to drink on March 17, conveniently falling on a Friday this year. Of course, you might say, these people just want to have a good time, or that it's a Friday night. Granted, those who do get trashed, smashed, or whatever euphemism we wish to substitute for someone whose idea of a good time is the obliteration of any memory whatsoever of that good time, on St. Patrick's hardly require a rationale to do so. However, that the seventeenth day of March is a good time to do so rather than the eighteenth (a Saturday) is purely arbitrary. The vacuous nature of dullards all around downtown (and elsewhere) is simultaneously comical and tear-inducing. It is astonishing to observe that people of all sorts, or so they say at least, all do the same thing on any given night. Despite the fact that St. Patrick's Day lacks the cultural centrality of Christmas or even New Year's, it is quite common to ask someone, "what're you doing on St. Patty's?".

The hundreds lined up outside the Irish Embassy Pub on Yonge Street are a testament to the mind-numbing conformity we see on St. Patrick's Day, but maybe a larger testament to the irony of liberalism. Given that all are now free to pursue whatever it is they please, so long as it does not impinge upon the freedom of others to do as they please, most actually do the same things. The degree of choice for middle-class Torontonians on a night such as Friday, or any other Friday for that matter, seems to be where and how they will choose to get drunk.

Regardless of whether your cred is Bay Street, Queen Street, Bloor Street or elsewhere, the only difference will be the predictable way in which you try to be unique. Will it be the life of an honour-lover, aspiring to Model UN conferences and boasting earnings of "160 clean!" or that of a faux-hipster who wears thrift-store clothing and bug-eyed sunglasses just like everyone else? Will you drink at the Green Room or Jump?

The sad reality is that the absence of values, not of the familial or religious sort, but the sort by which we can say that something is good or bad, has created a woeful state of conformity. As economist and philosopher E.F. Schumacher once wrote, we know how to do a lot of things, but not what to do. So, we do what everyone else does; there is no reason not to given that everything is acceptable, though not good as that term implies an essentialist pronouncement. Of a school with tens of thousands of students, there is a strong likelihood that the overwhelming majority spent the weekend either 'partying', an intentional equivocation, or 'studying', another intentional equivocation, depending on various factors. How many, then, engaged in a good conversation, read a book, watched a movie, learned something or generally did something for itself rather than for its perceived instrumentality?

There is also a strong likelihood that you are thinking something along the lines of "it's my life and I have the right to what I want, so shut up". I'm delivering a haymaker to a straw man when I say that my argument is not a legal one or one of rights, but merely one of living a somewhat thoughtful and principled life. The conformity of which I speak and criticize so sharply is the product of simply living your life; falling back to an exercise of rights or some other argument in the tradition of liberalism is no defense at all, not to mention the admission of there being no possible defense.

It requires no eloquence or jargon to issue the imperative of thinking about the life you lead and the actions you take rather than simply doing them because of convention. The distinction I am making is that of knowledge and opinion. We may have been inculcated with the best beliefs, be they the ones that bring us the most pleasure or the ones that are considered most acceptable, but beliefs are just that: flimsy opinions that stand in stark contrast to knowledge or any sort of understanding.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Faith & Freedom - Letters to the Editor: "I am for free speech, but there will be a price to pay and you have to get informed about this growing world movement called Islam. This message is unbiased and merely serves to give you this link if you do not already know about this journal. Here you will learn the truth about the new Islamic movement.
Please do not write me. I do not want to get involved in this issue out of fear of the Islamists. I just want you to have this link so you too can learn the truth of what is coming.

beebop
"

Beebop could not be closer to the truth and has been exposed in what will be a fatal mistake. Even as we speak, my men are tracking down beebop with a satellite uplink that Chloe hooked up for us. Agents in Moscow, Paris, London, Cairo and elsewhere are leaving no stone unturned in seeking beebop and silencing him or her before our cover is blown. I have also implemented surveillance on all known contacts of beebop cross-referenced with a list of possible identities that Brad Hammond from Division sent over. There is no way out, beebop, surrender now or face the full wrath of my men. That is all.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

ESPN.com - OLY - FEATURE-Athletics-Tadesse benefits from better fit: "Tadesse started his sporting career in cycling but fell out with his team mates in late 2001 and switched to running instead.

In just a few months, Tadesse jumped from winning races at school to coming 30th at the 2002 world championships in Dublin, despite the shoe handicap.

'I was given some running shoes but they were the wrong size,' he said of the 12-km race in which he came 30th with barely any training against athletes from all over the world.


Tadesse has since won Eritrea's first Olympic medal, a bronze in the 10,000m at the Athens 2004 Games, and second place in the 2005 world cross-country championships in France."

Interesting. I wonder whether he uses the Garmin 301 or 305, if he wears orthotics with his shoes, his heart rate monitor shows him how many calories he has burned or if he got as far as he did because of a fuel belt.

Articles such as these won't come as a shock to the many hacks and sophists who debate, quite seriously, such irrelevant tripe and believe that training more than four days a week puts them at risk of overtraining for 42-kilometre footraces. After all, Tadesse is one of the fastest and most unheralded runners in the world. He is one of the best runners in the world, endowed, truly so, with tremendous genetic potential (59:05 half marathon as well). If Tadesse managed to run close to 27 minutes for 10,000 metres largely on the strength of training as a cyclist and running long distances to and from school, our amateur physiologists will tell you that it is because he is a demigod of sorts. After all, studies prove that there is no correlation between the ability to run long distances and how hard one trains to run long distances.

In fact, other studies show that one can maximize ability as a distance runner by running sparingly for three days a week and working real, real hard at the gym. Other studies show that students who study for more than one hour more than four times a week risk burning out and pushing some other, like, real, totally useful stuff out of their brains, basically, and stuff. What compels otherwise normal adults to conclude that working three days at anything at all, physical or otherwise, other than maybe binging on crack cocaine or suicide bombing, is as good as working five or six days (or twelve times a week) is likely the same thing that keeps the celebrity page prominently featured in Metro. Some, of course, have their dreams of becoming a physiological Galileo, but it does not take a dozen peer-reviewed studies to point out that we get better at what we do very often. A Starcraft addict could tell you that. Only in the interest of being complete in my analysis will I note that there is a point at which one can train so much as to harm performance, but this limit is hardly approached by Johnny Messageboard and his 3:30 marathon. Any claims to the contrary are about as serious as a five-year old donning a sportcoat and reading the newspaper upside down.

You see, the very unprofitable truth is that running fast is actually quite a simple thing to do, though simplicity and ease are not attributes that should be conflated. Licking your own elbow and traveling to the South Pole are both very hard to do, though the latter is significantly more complex. Running fast has a lot to do with working hard at running, and working hard at running has a lot to do with doing a lot of running. I'm not sure why that's so hard to understand.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Party of one - News: "Last Thursday's all-candidates meeting was marked by agreement rather than debate, as candidates for this week's SAC election presented their platforms at Hart House to an audience of less than two dozen people, most of them candidates or friends.

A slate of candidates closely allied with this year's SAC executive are running uncontested for all but one position, chairperson. Only one of the two candidates for that position-Jen Hassum-showed up for the meeting
."

There is something ugly, absurd and horrifyingly narcissistic (I'll never learn to spell that word) about commenting on an article that I wrote, but I'm going to do it anyway because I've longed for the day when I'd be able to quote myself. What was most striking at the debate was not that most of the positions are uncontested, few students care about that, but that there was one person there who might have been there just to see the debate. This abject lack of interest from the perspective of the student body highlights the irrelevance of student government in good times as well as bad times. The most significant achievements of the Students' Administrative are discount TTC Metropasses, the expansion of childcare services, and various minor points that I no longer remember.

The argument could be made, then, that the SAC is useless. I would say that the notion is mistaken, if only because I think that the University of Toronto would be worse without any form of student government. The two problems that plague the SAC are, first, its delusional sense of self-importance: a levy of sixty farthings to "improve" clubs on campus and another line-up from which to purchase Metropasses are hardly on par with the Third Midlothian Speech or the Reform Act of 1868. Or, then again, maybe they are exactly on par with the Midlothian Speech. Second, although the SAC is highly adept at advocacy and representation, the language of politics demands accomplishment. The SAC is, of course, more or less toothless when it comes to substantive change in that it will never receive the credit. The ability to effect true change at the university rests not with SAC but, as the name might suggest, with the Governing Council. The Governing Council embodies everything I love about this school: it is an obscure, quasi-medieval body whose function and structure is largely unintelligible. Just what the hell is a provost anyway?

Nonetheless, I can guarantee that very few students have been to the Council's website. The SAC, though it engages as many students as a grade school election for class rep, receives much of the attention as the supposed locus of campus politics. Surely it would be far more productive for students to scrutinize the members of the Govenring Council, both appointed and elected, as well as the Governing Council as a whole.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I'm glad to see that I'm back on track after a string of posts that didn't quite turn out the way I'd hoped, shifting the locus of discussion over to Sasha. Then again, everyone's favourite 15-year old has been slow in updating over the last week. I haven't quite finished thinking through the next short essay that flexes my twenty-four inch pythons of eloquence and inspires some form of discusion, so I submit a picture post in its stead. This should appease Jessica, who is everyone's favourite one-woman Sheryl Crow cover band. As always, ten pictures will follow, most taken recently but some that are old and unseen by Readerland.



At night, the University of Toronto becomes an eerie concrete cenotaph: cold, windy, and empty. In arguably its ugliest corner, the southwest, the light from a greenhouse illuminates the street as seen above. Pictured are the McLennan Physical Laboratories, a stereotypical dark lair if there ever was one. I have been hoping for a picture such as the one above for as long as I have been at the university. Its floors of physics undergraduates, graduates and professors get progressively sub-human as one goes up. No one is quite sure who or what awaits at the top.



This stellar example of microphotography is actually a test of different flashes on my camera. I actually have very little knowledge of how to operate my camera.



At around 11:30 pm one Monday night, a bunch of Asian students thought they'd hold a party at Robarts Library.



Every now and then Yorkville yields a gem.



Pictured: unidentified student, Convocation Hall, Medical Sciences building. Not pictured: CN Tower



This is the Canada Malting Plant on Bathurst, right by the lake. Knowing what I do about it, I think that it is arguably one of the creepiest buildings in the city, and yet hauntingly beautiful at the same time.



This is the boardwalk, one of many in Toronto, behind the Harbourfront Centre.



If not the Malt Plant, then the abandoned Hearn Generating Station, now adjacent to the site of a newly proposed station, has to be the creepiest building in the city. As I am fond of telling anyone who will listen, the smokestack you see was briefly the tallest structure in the country and remains one of the tallest. The station's decrepit interior, including intact control panels, coupled with its location in the most remote, forbidding part of Toronto certainly makes a convincing case.




Every Wednesday night, Riyaad and I go to a popular campus building and give out free food to strangers for absolutely no reason. I could say that it is an exercise in many things, maybe testing the reaction of total strangers to an offer of something for nothing, or the creation of community in an urban space, but I won't. Mostly we just like to eat Timbits and talk to strangers, although we are fast developing some regulars.



Here's a picture you didn't see: for a brief period of time, I was held hostage by unidentified militants in Iraq.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Any medium of communication will inevitably have horrendous applications, most evident in the case of television, but this is increasingly true the Internet. Blogs and message boards, their older but just as functional cousins, have done what garish personal websites could not: fulfill the destiny of the Internet relative to other media by allowing an individual to reach many. There are, of course, been many useful, positive uses of blogs, message boards and the like, but the overwhelming tendency, especially in the case of the former, is to lapse into a sort of solipsitic narcissism.

I say solipsistic because much of what is written is in fact intelligible only to the writer, sometimes painfully and obviously so. We are all keenly aware of the many public journals that are kept by half-witted adolescents (and often adults), often with a propensity to listen to Nine Inch Nails, writing, often quite poorly, for no audience save themselves. I say narcissistic because of the prevalent assumption that because the individual has thought it, it is worth communicating to many, for no other reason than that it was thought of. This is, of course, sometimes at odds with the solipsism I spoke of earlier, though not always. Narcissism is far more prevalent on the Internet, and rightly so given its structure, seen in the formless, chronological accounts of day-to-day life presented to everyone, but written for no one in particular. A mess of anecdotes and daily events is often better than its counterpart, the Jerry Seinfeld anecdote: a detailed fixation on some mundane, insignificant aspect of daily life such as the packaging on a granola bar, with no wider significance or application.

It is the latter term that I will focus on. There is no shortage of self-absorbed drivel on the Internet, and I'm sure I have been guilty of this to a great extent though I am trying to make this blog something I would like to read, the net result of which is that individuals no longer have to come up with something worthy. Whereas the other significant method of communication available to individuals, the telephone, demands a willing listener and therefore something relevant, there is no such restriction imposed on the authors of message board posts and blogs. We are, therefore, free to describe in excruciating detail every morsel of every meal, each and every step of each and every mundane, fourth-rate 18-minute 5k, along with the mile splits, net heart rate, the standard deviation of the aggregate glycolytic dewpoint, and so on. Even within the context of individual existence, there is no attempt made to construct a meaningful narrative that is anything other than the aggregate of all available facts ("then I went to Michael's, then I smoked a joint, then I ran, then I..")

This dulling of our ability to converse and communicate may, and this is far more frightening, be symptomatic of a larger inability to distinguish between all facts and important facts. In the world of blogs and message boards, running four miles at nineteen minutes apiece with an average temperature of 64.2 degrees Fahrenheit, net elevation gain of 41 inches and an average heart rate reserve twelve beats above the Garibaldi Equivalency is often the same as the Ugandan election, the AIDS pandemic and the national debt. After all, all of them are true. If anything, the first of that quartet is most important because, after all, I said it and it happened to me.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I actually spent some time coming up with a list of British Prime Ministers whose name or title was also the name of a landmark or street in Toronto, but then I realized that it was really just Palmerston, Gladstone and Churchill whose names I kept hearing. Lesser-known would be Asquith, Beaconsfield and Balfour, Wellington is a mulligan, and then there are the coincidences in Heath, Major, Wilson, Baldwin, George (come on), and Aberdeen. These names were unfortunately drowned in the sea of Prime Ministers that the British have had.

By contrast, the only Canadian Prime Minister I can think of with a street named after him is Robert Borden. There is also a minor street named Bedford, but it doesn't sound like it was named after Richard Bennett, though I could be wrong. In fact, I can think of more streets who share a name with American presidents: Kennedy, Washington, Clinton, Wilson, and Madison.